Burundi musician Kidum 'confused by Rwanda ban'

In Summary

• Police official phoned the musician's manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

• Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi's civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

Kidum is popular across East Africa and sings in his mother tongue Kirundi and in Swahili
Kidum is popular across East Africa and sings in his mother tongue Kirundi and in Swahili
Image: BBC

Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda's decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi's biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician's manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

"[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances," the musician told BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda's capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi's civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute - including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

"I don't know, I don't have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I'm not a player in politics, I'm just a freelance musician based in Nairobi," he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: "There's nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed someday.

"It's similar to a family house and you are denied entry... so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise."